KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF THE PLAYERS!

Question:
I’ve let this letter simmer for a couple of months so that my own attitude settles a bit. I would almost prefer that the question not be published, but it brings up issues that need to be addressed at many levels of competitive soccer. We’ve seen too many other youth sports where someone at a game went nuts. Then the situation spirals out of control and people end up hurt (or worse). I would hate to see our youth soccer programs end up in the same mess, but I won’t be terribly surprised when it happens.I have been active in soccer as a parent, coach and referee over the past 12 years. For the event listed below, I was just a parent.

Situation: U16 boys competitive tournament. White is a local team. Red is from out of town. About 5 minutes into the first half, still scoreless, opposing players are battling for the ball near midfield. White pushes red, red pushes back harder â a fairly typical foul for this level. The referee blows his whistle and indicates white ball, DFK. The players start backing away from the ball, getting ready for the kick. So far, all is normal. Before play can resume, the assistant referee closest to the play charges onto the field (8-10 yards), shouting at the red player “what’s your problem?”, bumps the player in the chest a couple of times and finally retreats to his sideline. The referee shows no card to any player, and says nothing to either the player or the AR.

When I complained to the tournament officials about the actions of the referee and assistant referee, they refused to even send an observer to monitor the rest of the game.

White ended up winning the game 2-1.

Questions: Under what circumstance is physical contact permitted between the referee crew and the players? Is it simply to restrain players involved in a fight? That clearly was not the case here. If it had been the other way around, or if it happened between two players, I believe the charging party would have been red-carded for violent conduct.

USSF answer (January 11, 2007):
Under no circumstances should an assistant referee or a referee act in the manner you describe. While some referees have a knack of handling players differently than others, such as being able to use actual physical contact, what you describe is well “over the top.” The AR should have been admonished by the referee and the referee should have included full details of the incident in a report to the referee authorities.…

THE WALL AS “CHORUS LINE”

Question:
I have a couple questions involving the setting of defensive walls based on occurrences I’ve seen in youth and adult matches. In a lot of adult matches in my area, when the whistle is blown for a foul, the defensive player takes his time getting up off the ground and then stands precisely in front of where the ball will be positioned. As often as not, he will be joined by a teammate. They may talk with each other, opponents, or the referee in what appears to me to be an effort to delay their leaving and simultaneously distract the referee from his/her mission at that point: To encourage a quick free kick, unencumbered by defenders within 10 yards of the ball. I’ve seen frequent instances where the referee tells them either by words or gestures to leave the vicinity repeatedly while the ball is being retrieved, and continue to do this with slow, partial compliance after the ball is positioned. Often the attackers do not ask for the 10 yards but the referee continues trying to move the defenders out, sometimes from a distance, sometime wading into the group and “pushing” them back (not physically touching them though). In these instances, the attackers will put the ball into play when they see that they’ve obtained a slight advantage due to a defender turning his head to see if he’s lined up properly with the goal, or turning his head to look at the referee and acknowledge the referee’s request to back out. Everybody seems to know what the games are at this point: The attackers’ game is to use the referee to distract the defenders and to put the ball into play when they see a good opportunity without waiting for the 10 yards. The defenders’ game is to get a good wall set up behind the player who is stalling the taking of the free kick. Surprisingly the defenders don’t complain that the referee was distracting them when the attackers get off the free kick, but then it seldom scores either. My lead question for you is “Just how long should the referee persist in trying to back out the defenders unbidden by the attackers?” I heard there was a memo some years back recommending that the referee should do this only until the ball was positioned, then to become an observer unless the attackers asked for the 10 yards. The advice to referees says (section 13.3) “The referee should move quickly out of the way after indicating the approximate area of the restart and should do nothing to interfere with the kicking team’s right to an immediate free kick. At competitive levels of play, referees should not automatically “manage the wall,” but should allow the ball to be put back into play as quickly as possible, unless the kicking team requests help in dealing with opponents infringing on the minimum distance.” So, should we not ask or demand that the defenders leave? Or should we desist at some set point unless the attackers ask for the 10 yards? That is not interfering with the attackers’ rights but it could be construed as interfering with the defenders’ rights (to not be distracted by officials). I know I took a lot of words to get to the point but this has been bugging me why so few fouls result in quick free kicks.My second question is in regard to the behavior of players in the properly set defensive wall. I don’t see this often and when I do, it typically is with girls and I chuckle but one of my colleagues has a sterner attitude. After the wall is set at the proper distance, the girls will have their arms on one another’s shoulders and they begin singing or dancing in unison, maybe kicking one foot high a la Can-Can. I watch the attackers and try to judge whether the defenders’ actions unfairly distracted the kicker. If I don’t see them visibly distracted, I let it go as a trifling infringement and let the girls have their fun. The coaches of the attackers usually want the defenders to be cautioned. My stern colleague doesn’t see much humor in the situation and usually tells the defenders to “knock it off!” Is there a standard response to this situation, or should one try to judge whether the defenders’ actions unfairly distract the kicker and act accordingly? If there is a standard response, what should it be?

Thank you for your insight into these situations. I’m a great fan of the advice you give.

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
1. Defending team fails to retreat at restart:
Normally, we do instruct referees to allow the kicking team to take the kick quickly, if they wish, without interfering with it. However, if, in the opinion of the referee, the defenders are too close to the kick, he or she should avoid playing into the defenders’ hands and becoming an unwitting player on their team–the referee has done the work of the defense by delaying the restart of play and has not made the defenders pay any price for this benefit. Once the referee has decided to step in on your own initiative to deal with opponents who are “too close to the kick,” the threshold limit for a card has been met.

2. The wall as chorus line:
The referee must recognize that while members of the wall are allowed to jump about when opponents are taking a kick, choreographed actions that are unnatural and designed to both intimidate and to shock and distract their opponents constitute bringing the game into disrepute. As this occurred before the ball was in play, the correct call could be unsporting behavior on the part of the particular player whom the referee chooses from the chorus line. Caution and show the yellow card; restart with the free kick.…

PLAYING THE BALL IN THE POSSESSION OF THE ‘KEEPER

Question:
In looking at two different publications, each speaks of a slightly different restart, possibly, when a player attempts to play a ball that is in the possession of the keeper.The first comes from Advice to Referees…… section 12.16 and says………while the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot lawfully be played by an opponent, and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick.

The second comes from Instructions for Referees and Resolutions………. section 5 – Offenses against Goalkeepers and says…… in (d) makes any play for the ball while the goalkeeper is still controlling it with the hands. Kicking or attempting to kick the ball held by the goalkeeper is considered to be dangerous play. Of the four subsections (a through d), there seems to be both direct and indirect restarts. Based on the ‘dangerous play’ text of (d), that sounds like an indirect restart.

Dangerous play is not one of the ten fouls that is restarted with a direct free kick, but rather indirect. Is the restart for this offense against the keeper a direct or indirect free kick. I would assume the kicking or attempting to kick a ball in the possession of the keeper is more consistent with a direct free kick restart.

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
This dichotomy goes back to 1996 and was covered by Memorandum 1996, which said, in effect: The 1995 Law changes included the removal of the phrase “attempting to kick the ball while held by the goalkeeper” as an example of “dangerous play” and the Board explained its reason thusly: the example was deleted because “it is no longer an appropriate example since the introduction of the terms ‘careless’ and ‘reckless’ into the Law in 1995.”

To which the Federation added the following explanation:

ADVICE TO USSF REFEREES: The action of “attempting to kick the ball while held by the goalkeeper” previously described as an example of “playing in a manner considered by the referee to be dangerous” should now be deemed a major foul as it should be seen as a “careless” or “reckless” act punishable by a direct free kick under the 1995 changes in Law XII.

Regardless of what language is employed in the Instructions, this remain USSF’s position on the matter. Without wishing to seem naive, we would argue that in this instance the Instructions’ and IFAB’s phrase “dangerous play” is not intended to refer to “dangerous play” as that concept is used in Law 12’s reference to the various offenses punishable by an indirect free kick, but to the act of placing the opponent in grave danger through one’s actions. However that may be, it still comes down to the fact that the Federation has opted to declare that any attempt to kick a ball in the possession of the goalkeeper HAS to be considered the equivalent of kicking the goalkeeper since it is illegal to play a ball in the goalkeeper’s possession and thus the action must be directed toward the player–hence the seriousness of the offense. The Federation’s Instructions document for 2007 will include this meaning.…

MAKING CONTACT WITH THE OPPONENT VS. IMPEDING AN OPPONENT

Question:
I would benefit from some further clarification as to when making contact with the opponent before touching the ball is acceptable and when it is not. The situation concerns U 13 players at the premiere level, so there is intent in this move. The move does not concern an individual player but is a reflection of the style of coaching as it is consistent for the team.Let me describe a typical situation. The ball is 5 yards in front of 2 opposing player that both run as fast as they can to the ball. The 2 players start out say 2 yards apart and converge as they approach the ball. They have an equal change of reaching the ball. Just before they get to the ball, player 1 steps in front of the ball in such a way as to shield it from player 2. This requires an aggressive burst of energy but does not harm player 2 other than that player 2 ends up running into the back to player 1. Then player 1 touches and plays the ball. When player 1 steps in front of player 2 her distance to the ball is such that she could barely touch the ball but certainly not control it yet. It is my perception that the first objective of player 1 is to prevent player 2 from reaching the ball and shielding it before playing the ball.

My question now is, since the 2 players collide and tackle each other and player 1 consistently makes contact with player 2 before playing the ball, is that a foul under law 12? What criteria for consideration could you point out to me so that the judgement of foul or fair play becomes easier?

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
You would appear to be confusing two separate infringements of the Law. Let’s see if we can explain it a bit–but you will need to remember that only you, the referee, can make the correct decision in any given event.

Making contact with the opponent before touching the ball applies ONLY to tackling for the ball, not to a charging offense. “Tackling” means going for the ball on the ground, not shielding the ball or (illegally) impeding the opponent’s access to it. There is no other prohibition on fair and reasonable contact with an opponent in competing for the ball.

Here are two citations from the 2006 edition of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the laws of the Game” that may be helpful:

12.8 MAKING CONTACT WITH THE OPPONENT
Making contact with the opponent before the ball when making a tackle is unfair and should be penalized. However, the fact that contact with the ball was made first does not automatically mean that the tackle is fair.Ê The declaration by a player that he or she has played the ball is irrelevant if, while tackling for the ball, the player carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force commits any of the prohibited actions.

A foul committed while tackling an opponent with little or no concern for the safety of the opponent shall be cause for the player to be sent from the field and shown the red card for serious foul play.

and

12.14 IMPEDING AN OPPONENT
“Impeding the progress of an opponent” means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between the opponent and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying progress. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.

The offense of impeding an opponent requires that the ball not be within playing distance and that physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick, see Advice 12.22). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).

A MAJOR CHANGE IN THE LAWS IN 2006–READ IT!

Question:
I am having problems with one area of the ATR. It is on page 64 and it refers to the ball being played backwards by the kicker. How do I explain that if the ball is not in play, the referee can change the restart from penalty kick to an indirect free kick? Also, if a player other than the kicker takes the kick, it results in an indirect free kick for the opponents. Again, we are taking a kick restart and changing it during a time when the ball is not legally in play. Was this a position paper and I missed it?

USSF answer (January 3, 2007):
In its infinite wisdom, the IFAB has chosen to set aside, at least in respect of Law 14, the tradition that an offense that occurs when the ball is not in play cannot affect the restart. For the reason for the change in the 2006 edition of the Advice to Referees, see the Laws of the Game 2006, Law 14:

Infringements/Sanctions
If the referee gives the signal for a penalty kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following situations occurs:The player taking the penalty kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
– the referee allows the kick to proceed
– if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
– if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred.
//deleted//
A team-mate of the player taking the kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
– the referee allows the kick to proceed
– if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
– if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred.
//rest deleted//

PUTTING THE BALL OUT OF PLAY WHEN A PLAYER IS DOWN

Question:
now i am grade 9 ref im going to get upgraded but my question is when i ref games and there is a player down cause this happens a lot on minor injuries instead of blowing my whistle all the time i try to get players to play the ball out you know fifa fair play and then get the other team to throw the ball back to them is this bad?USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
No, this is not bad, but neither is it sanctioned under the Laws of the Game. The referee has no authority to direct the players to put the ball out of play or to tell them to play it back in to the other team to restart.

It is the job of the referee to stop play for injury, regardless of what players may or may not do, only if a player is, in the referee’s opinion, seriously injured–keeping in mind the age of the players. There are considerable practical differences between the referee stopping play for a serious injury and players stopping play for what they believe is an injury. If the players do it on their own, there is little the referee can do to control it, at least as the Laws read now.…

GOALKEEPER POSSESSION YET AGAIN

Question:
This issue came up during recertification when talking about gaining an advantage by being in an offside position.How is parry defined as it applies to goalkeeper possession?

From Decision 2 in Law 12, it seems apparent that a parried ball by a goalkeeper constitutes possession. So if the ball was parried by a goalkeeper and next touched by a player who had been in an offside position when the shot was taken, it would seem that the player would not be offside.

The discussion then turned to what was a parry. Some thought a parry required that the ball be knocked to the ground while others thought that any deliberate (and controlled) touch of the ball by the keeper was a parry (as in fisting or punching a ball away from the goal).

Laws, ATR and Q&A were checked but no reference seems to exist. Can you provide guidance?

USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
See the definition of “possession” in Law 12, IFAB Decision 2:

“The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hand or arms. Possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save.”

To “parry” the ball is to handle the ball deliberately, pushing it to a place where the goalkeeper may play it to more advantage. By parrying the ball, the goalkeeper has done two things: (1) established possession and (2) given up possession. The ball is now free for all to play. The six-second rule has no further application in this situation.

So, in answer to your question, no, if the goalkeeper has clearly established possession by parrying the ball, rather than simply deflecting it in a “save,” then the opposing player cannot be declared offside.…

TOO MANY PLAYERS WHEN A GOAL IS SCORED

Question:
My question is if 12 players are on the field of play and a goal is scored, what must the ref do either if the game has started for one minute after the kick off and the 12th player is noticed or the game has not restarted from a kick off after the goal is scored.USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
In all cases the extra player is removed and cautioned (unless an outside agent) for unsporting behavior.

If the extra player is discovered only after the ball has been kicked off, the goal counts. The game is restarted in accordance with the Law–i. e., if it went out of play, the restart is a throw-in, corner kick, goal kick, or free kick, depending on the reason the ball was out of play. If the referee stopped play, it is an indirect free kick from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

If the extra player is discovered BEFORE the kick-off, the goal is canceled only if the extra player was on the scoring team or if the extra person was an outside agent who, in the opinion of the referee, did not in any way interfere with play or any player. The restart is determined by who the extra “player” was. If it was an outside agent–not a player or a substitute or substituted player–the restart is a dropped ball at the top of the defending team’s goal area. If it was a player who had left the game with the referee’s permission but re-entered without permission , the restart is an indirect free kick for the defending team, to be taken from within their goal area. If it was a substitute who had entered without the referee’s permission, the restart is an indirect free kick to be taken from the defending team’s goal area.…

2006 Part 4

COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!!
Your question:
Situation: A blue team attacker is guilty of an offside infraction, and the AR puts up his flag to signal the offside. Since the infraction occurred near the far touchline away from the AR, the CR has his back to the AR and does not notice that the ARÕs flag is straight up. The red team kicks the ball out, and the CR awards a throw-in to the blue (attacking) team. The blue team quickly takes the throw in while the AR is still standing on the far side of the field unnoticed by the CR.
Question: Should the AR (a) put down his flag after the blue team throw-in or (b) keep his flag raised until he is seen by the CR or the ball clears the red teamsÕ half of the field?

USSF answer (December 4, 2006):
The assistant referee should keep the flag raised in this case–and the referee should be ashamed not to have maintained communication (eye contact) with the assistant. In addition, the AR at the other end of the field should also be ashamed to have missed the flag and not “mirrored” it to the referee.


“POSSESSION” BY THE OPPOSING PLAYER
Your question:
IÕm hoping you can help resolve a topic thatÕs gotten much discussion on a number of referee forums as of late. In the 2006 USSF Advice to Referees (ATR), item 11.3 #3 states that a player can become onside when ÒAn opponent intentionally plays or gains possession of the ballÓ. The question that has been raised is that playing the ball and possession of the ball are conspicuously separate items in this clause and seem to be two different things. Therefore, what is required to rule that a player has Ògained possessionÓ. Is contact with the ball specifically a requirement? Consider the following scenario.

A red attacker is in an offside position near the center of the field (obviously in the attacking half) when the ball is kicked by a teammate from the defending half deep into the attacking half. The ball comes to a complete stop just outside the PA. The attacker knowing he is offside makes no play or chase on the ball and the opposing kicker comes and stands over the ball without touching it. The keeper stands there for some time (for argument sake, figure 3-4 seconds) until finally the attacker that had been offside makes a charge at the ball to force the keeper to make a play. Can the keeper be determined to have gained possession and therefore the attacker is now onside or should the attacker be called for offside?

USSF answer (November 30, 2006):
If there is no physical control of the ball there is no possession. Offside. To force the defender to play the ball, just have an attacker from an onside position start challenging.

As to “conspicuously separate” items, someone will always find (nonexistent) fault when a statement contradicts his or her own opinion.


WHEN TO CAUTION
Your question:
Issuing Cards: I usually center about U12-U16 games in Recreation level, and U12-U13/14 games in comp (with the exception of a forced U15 comp game I had to center).

My real question is this, in the recreation level games, lets say U16, how would you go on about giving a yellow card? I have given cards in Comp games, and only 2 times in Rec level U14 boys games. But in Rec, do you warn once, then warn that you will card, then card? Or just warn, then card? Help!

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
If the offense deserves an immediate caution, you may caution first without any warning. You would temper your decision based on the skill and developmental level of the players. Complete guidance is contained in the USSF publication “Cautions and Cautionable Offenses,” downloadable from the ussoccer.org website. A condensed version of the philosophy on cautions is contained in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” and is cited here to help in your decision making:
QUOTE
12.27 A PHILOSOPHY ON CAUTIONS
The Laws of the Game identify seven cautionable offenses (Law 12). These include fairly specific actions (leaving the field without the permission of the referee), very general actions (unsporting behavior), and highly judgmental areas (dissent). In all cases, the referee is expected to evaluate a playerÕs behavior based on several factors:
– Does the act meet the generally accepted and understood meaning of the offense?
– Was the act, even if an offense, trifling?
– Would the issuance of a caution for this misconduct likely have desirable results for game and/or player management?
If the playerÕs act meets the criteria for the offense, is not trifling, and its punishment will have a salutary effect, the caution should be given. Whether the referee should stop play to do so or whether play should be allowed to continue until the next stoppage involves the application of the same advantage concept that is used to decide whether to stop play for a foul.

Every caution must be given for one and only one of the seven reasons listed in Law 12. Player behavior, of course, may involve several forms of misconduct at the same time and the referee must decide whether to caution each one separately (in which case, the second caution must also be followed by a send-off and display of the red card) or to issue a single caution for the total behavior. If the latter is chosen, the referee must decide which specific reason in the Law will be reported as the basis for the caution. In either case, however, the referee should fully describe in the game report all misconduct the player has committed in addition to the misconduct for which the caution was given.

Whether a caution is “mandatory” or “discretionary” is often discussed among referees, but the use of these terms tends to obscure the primary issues central to handling misconduct and should therefore generally be avoided. The Laws of the Game require that the referee further decide whether the misconduct is not trifling and that the caution will result in a desirable change in player conduct. The refereeÕs judgment (discretion) is a critical element in deciding, for example, whether what a player has just said or done is dissent within the meaning of Law 12 and guidance from USSF (see the USSF memorandum on “Misconduct Involving Language/Gestures,” dated March 14, 2003). If the referee decides that it is “dissent,” then the offense must be considered cautionable, but this does not mean that the yellow card must be displayed.

The referee must then make a second decisionÑin this particular case involving this particular player at this particular point in the match, based on the way the match has proceeded so farÑas to whether or not the dissent is trifling and whether or not displaying the card would have a positive effect on this player’s behavior and the behavior of the other players in the game. Each caution must be approached in this way as a combination of mandatory and discretionary elements. In no case may a caution (or send-off) be delayed beyond the next restart. It must be given as soon as play is stopped, even if this means preventing a team from taking advantage of a quick restart (if the kick is taken, it must be called back and not taken until the delayed card is shown). No alteration of this procedure is permitted.
END OF QUOTE

We might add that there are a few cautions for which, unless the action is really blatant and cynical, it is generally better to warn a player first before giving the card for persistent infringement (else how is the player to know how many offenses the referee may consider “persistent”) or for delaying the restart of play (else how is the player to know when the “extra” time he is taking to restart is riding the edge of impermissible delay). However, such warnings must never include any “if you do X, I will caution” sort of threat, as this is counterproductive, restricts the referee’s flexibility, and sounds foolish.


COACHES VS. REFEREES
Your question:
Should a referee threaten a coach with ejection for interfering with his ability to “call” the gameÊwithout explaining how that interference occurred? Are coaches allowed to yell hands or offsides during a game? Are not cautions and warnings to be issuedÊat the moment of the offence or next stoppage of play so as to be in context?ÊÊIs a ref allowed to declare the game a forfeit after ejecting a coach?

This involves aÊU 13 Rec league semi final game?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
Referees should never threaten anyone with anything; that is a poor management technique and can only lead to greater problems. The referee should present the coach or other antagonist with options, but not with threats. Nor must the referee explain any calls to the coach or any other team official. Any necessary details will be contained in the match report.

Coaches and other team officials are allowed to behave responsibly. If, in the opinion of the referee, they behave irresponsibly, they can be expelled from the field and its environs. Constantly yelling “hands” and “offside” is a form of intimidation towards the referee and might be considered irresponsible behavior by the thin-skinned referee. Nor should referees be cautioning (or showing any cards to) coaches unless it is specifically required by the rules of the competition.

No referee can ever declare any game a forfeit. The referee can only declare a game abandoned or terminated and then provide full details in the match report to the competition authority, the only body competent to make a decision on the result of the game.


‘KEEPER THROWS THE BALL INTO THE AIR
Your question:
Sometimes kids do the strangest things – and I was not sure of the answer.

Boys U9. The GK of Team A makes a save in front of his goal mouth. All of Team B’s field players, anticipating a long punt, retreat into their own half of the field (U9 appropriate size field). The Team A GK the throws the ball in a high, arching manner toward the top of of PA. He runs under the ball, catches it in the air (it never strikes the ground); and, while inside the PA and under 6 seconds, punts the ball deep into Team B’s territory.

According to ATR 12.16, second sentence “Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground.” However, the next sentence indicates “… handling extends from the shoulder to tips of the fingers.

So, is the GK guilty of releasing the ball into play by throwing it in the manner he did, and, therefore guilty of a double touch when he caught it? Or, is the GK still in possession of the ball and permitted to do what he did?

Another element also needs to be addressed. If there were an attacking player standing near the edge of the PA could he attempt to make a play on the ball (as noted in ATR 12.17), or is he guilty of interfering with a GK in possession of the ball?

I must admit that I was bedazzled by the whole thing. Why couldn’t the GK have run to the edge of the PA with the ball tucked under his arm and made my life simple?

I am not entirely sure why I made the call I did, but I called the GK for a doubleÊtouch and awarded an IFK the the opponentsÊinside the PA.ÊÊThe opposingÊcoach agreed that the ball had been released into play. The coach of the GK said he never relinquished possession.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
As long as the goalkeeper is simply throwing the ball into the air, not allowing it to hit the ground, and the time remains within the 6 seconds limitation, what does it really matter how far he is throwing the ball? ÊIt is not being unfairly withheld from challenge by the opponents and we cannot see what unfair advantage the ‘keeper is gaining from such a long throw. In fact, one could argue that the ‘keeper is at a higher risk of losing possession by failing to make the catch.

The answer to the second question is equally simple–no opponent is allowed to challenge for the ball while it is merely being thrown into the air while retaining possession and in the process of releasing the ball into play.


AR POSITION ON CORNER KICKS
Your question:
There seems to be two different opinions in our state on where the proper position is for the AR when the ball is to be kicked on the far side corner. One opinion is that the referee should stand directly behind the corner flag, the other that the AR may take a few steps in on the goal line to have a Òbetter lookÓ when the ball comes into play. Could you render your opinion and is there a right and wrong position for AR corner kicks, far side?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The correct procedure for the assistant referee at a corner kick on the referee’s side of the field is given in the USSF publication “Guide to Procedures for Referees, Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials”:
Assistant Referee
– Moves to the near corner and takes position on the goal line behind the flag
– Signals only if referee makes eye contact to ask for assistance
– If the ball passes out of play and immediately returns to the field, signals with a vertical flag until acknowledged by the referee, then points flag 45 degrees downward toward the near corner
– Steps upfield from goal line to avoid pointing the flag off the field
– Following the kick, recovers to the offside position as quickly as possible


BALL IN PLAY FROM THROW-IN
Your question:
Although this seems to be a very basic question, when I went to research it, I could not easily find anything directly on point.

Here was the scenario I had in a recent U-14 game. Player takes a throw-in directly down the touchline. It hits the line and then bounces out of touch. My training has been that the line becomes part of the area which it contains – so that from the point of view of a throw-in (ball coming from out of field of play into the field of play), the line is out of the field of play. Therefore, the whole of the ball must pass over the whole of the line for the ball to “enter the field of play”. Therefore, I ruled that the throw-in be taken over since the ball had never entered the field of play. Of course, the opposite team’s coach (who was a few yards from the play on that side of the field) said “But it hit the line, then went out of play! It should be a throw-in the other way”.

Please clarify who was correct.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The ball is in play from a throw-in as soon as it breaks the plane of the touchline–and has been released by the thrower. There is no need for the whole of the ball to break the plane of the line. In this case the coach was absolutely correct: the throw-in should have been awarded to the team that did not take the throw-in.


FOLLOWING THE BALL TO THE GOAL LINE
Your question:
Have looked in the LOTG/Advice/Guide to Proced/past Memorandums and cannot find the source for this:
While following the ball to the goal line, it is quite often impossible to keep up with the ball, especially at higher levels of play….the ball simply rockets across the goal line, while the AR is 20-30yds out or so with 2nd to last defender.

Everyone knows that it’s a goal kick. The Center ref often announces it verbally and with the hand signal…but must the Center wait until the AR runs all the way to the goal line in situations like this….which is a major waste of precious playing time for players while it holds up the Center Ref’s signaling too—if they are to make the signal at same time….

or, should the Center simply go ahead with his/her signal, ignoring the fact that the AR hasn’t gotten down there yet….pretty much ignoring the whole process?

Common sense, our Law 18, and common practice for many in this situation is to stop advancing toward the goal line and provide the goal kick signal…usually in tandem with the Center….then to proceed to the appropriate position for the restart. But, if already close to the goal line when this happens, to quickly move to goal line before giving the signal.

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
Assuming a standard pregame in accordance with the Guide to Procedures and other traditional guidelines, the AR has primary responsibility for “his” end of the touchline and “his” side of the goal line. If the ball crosses these parts of the perimeter lines, the AR is expected to signal. If the referee sees no reason to disagree, the AR’s signal may in fact be the only indication of the restart.

We all understand that, as play becomes more skilled and competitive, the AR may find himself caught out of position (though we should all strive to be at the goal line when the ball crosses it). Should this be the case, the AR has two choices–stop wherever he is when the ball leaves the field and give the appropriate signal or continue on to the goal line and then signal. Common sense suggests that the AR does the latter if he is close to the goal line but does the former when he is farther away. Notice that these choices do not include “doing nothing” beyond expecting the referee to signal. Do not assume that “everyone knows” anything … and even if the referee does know what the correct restart should be, he is (or should be) waiting to see what the AR does.

So, if caught a couple of yards off the goal line when the ball crosses it for a goal kick or corner kick, continue on to the goal line and signal the correct restart. If caught more than, say, 3-4 yards up field, stop there, signal, make eye contact with the referee to ensure the signal was seen and understood, and then take up the correct position for the restart.


WHEN IS THE PENALTY KICK/KICK FROM THE PENALTY MARK COMPLETED?
Your question:
A tournament semi-final match ends 0-0 and goes to penalty kicks by rules of the tournament. On one of the penalty kicks, the goalkeeper dives to his right and stops the ball, clearly gaining possession as the ball rests on the goal line, clearly not completely over the goal line. As the keeper rises to his feet with the ball in his hands, he steps slightly backward so that all of the ball is over the goal line. Is this counted as a successful penalty kick for the player who took the kick, or does the penalty kick end when the keeper has clear possession of a stationary ball that is not over the goal line?

Same situation, except the penalty kick deflects off the keeper without the ball crossing the goal line, the ball goes high in the air, hits the ground about 20 feet away from the goal, but due to extreme spin the ball bounces over the goal line into the goal. Is the penalty kick successful or did the penalty kick end when the keeper deflected the ball away from the goal?

Same situation, but when the keeper deflects the ball, the ball goes hard back to the kicker, deflects off his knee, and goes into the goal. Is the kick successful or did the penalty kick end at some point during this exchange?

USSF answer (November 27, 2006):
The penalty kick or kick from the penalty mark is not completed until the referee declares it so, and the referee should not declare the kick to be completed if there is any possibility that it is still in play.

In other words, if, in the opinion of the referee, the motion of the ball had stopped completely and clearly, then it makes no difference where the ‘keeper carried the ball. If the ball had not stopped, then the kick was still in progress and a goal could still be scored, even if this was caused solely by an error of the goalkeeper.

The answer to your third question is easier: In kicks from the penalty mark, the kicker may not play the ball again after kicking it. Nor may any other member of the kicker’s team play the ball in any way after it has been kicked.


MISTAKEN ENDING
Your question:
A question has come up in an international referee’s forum about the following situation:
A referee mistakenly signals the end of the game ten minutes early, probably by three short blasts on his whistle and pointing to the center spot. When the mistake is pointed out to him, he chooses not to restart, but rather to file a complete report to the competition authority. As a result, the game must be replayed.

Participants in the forum are of two minds. One group points to Law 5 and the fact that a referee cannot change his decision once there is another restart or he has terminated the match. This group feels that the whistle and signal constitute termination.

The second group believes that, if he wanted to, the referee could have determined, upon learning of his mistake (and so long as the referee team and the competing teams were still present), that it was an inadvertent whistle and restarted with a dropped ballÊfrom the point of the game where it was stopped. In this view, it was an error, not an actual termination that occurred.

Is there one correct answer to this situation, or maybe two? Thanks in advance for your answer.

USSF answer (November 17, 2006):
This excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” should answer your question:
7.3 MISTAKEN ENDING
If the referee ends play early, then the teams must be called back onto the field and the remaining time must be played as soon as the error is detected. The halftime interval is not considered to have begun until the first period of play is properly ended. If the ball was out of play when the period was ended incorrectly, then play should be resumed with the appropriate restart (throw-in, goal kick, etc.). If the ball was in play, then the correct restart is a dropped ball where the ball was when the referee incorrectly ended play (subject to the special circumstances in Law 8).

If a period of play (first half or first overtime period) was ended prematurely and this fact was not discovered until the next period of play had been started, the referee will complete the match using the correct length of time for the period of play as prescribed by the competition authority and then include full details of the error in the match report.


WHEN RULES OF COMPETITION CONFLICT WITH THE REAL WORLD
Your question:
I just finished the recently released playoff rules for our upcoming league playoff games. I am concerned about the method of determining a winner in the championship game. I have pasted the rule below directly from the website.

1. Final games tied at the end of regulation play two full ten minute overtimes switching goals at the end of the first period of overtime. NO SUDDEN DEATH/GOLDEN GOAL.
2. Final games tied at the end of the two overtime periods will play two five minute overtime periods with the regulation number of players on the field. NO SUDDEN DEATH/GOLDEN GOAL. During these overtime periods – ALL PLAYERS ARE FIELD PLAYERS – NO player (goalkeeper) may use their hands. The exception to the “No Hands Rule” is in the event of a violation resulting in a penalty shot, a player may be designated as the goalkeeper and may use his hands during the penalty shot only If there is no score on the penalty shot, play will continue without the use of hands.
3. Final games tied at the end of the two five minute “No Hands” overtime period will result in co-champions.

I am of the opinion that this No Keeper/No Hands rule violates the Laws of the Game, as it is required that one player from each team be designated as a goalie. I have decided that if asked, I will turn down any assignment to call a game that is to be played under these rules.

My question is, am I correct that this rule is contrary to the Laws of the Game? If so can a referee be disciplined by the USSF for calling a game like this? Can the league be disciplined for instituting this rule? The league is associated with the USSF through US Youth Soccer.

USSF answer (November 7, 2006):
A referee cannot be disciplined for refereeing a game in accordance with the rules of the competition. Simply report the matter to the state association and then forget about it. It is up to the state association to make sure its leagues and tournaments are conducted in accordance with FIFA Laws of the Game. As you point out, the Laws state that each team MUST have a goalkeeper.

It’s always possible that this decision by the USYS has not made its way down to the local tournaments yet


BRINGING THE GAME INTO DISREPUTE; ABUSE BY COACHES
Your question:
As part of my referee training, I have been taught that, particularly in youth soccer, I can consider sanctioning a coach if he is abusive to his players, by words or actions.

But can a player be considered to bring the game into disrepute for being abusive to their coach?

I recently reffed a U12B select game. The coach did a fair amount of criticizing and lamenting the actions of his players, but nothing that I considered even close to excessive, and none of the players seem to be seriously affected by his words. One player, however, eventually had enough of his coach’s constant criticism of him, and told the coach to “shut up”.

After my initial thought of mild amusement at the irony of a player giving the coach a little of what he was getting, I began to contemplate whether the player can bring the game into disrepute in this manner, and if so, what level of words or actions would be required to consider sanction?

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
The intelligent referee will generally disregard coaching comments, unless they become openly disrespectful of the game and of the referee. In that case, an admonition to the coach is in order, noting that if this activity continues, the coach will be expelled for irresponsible behavior– an offense for which the referee may expel the coach or any other team official in the team area. (No cards to be shown, unless the rules of the competition permit or require it.)

When coaches begin to abuse their players, this is irresponsible behavior and the referee must act immediately.

Proactive steps such as the admonition of the coach will usually prevent players who become disgusted with their coach’s behavior from acting out and thus becoming subject to punishment themselves.

If the player does in fact act as you described, this is at least in part because you did not do your job correctly. However, if the language was abusive, rather than simply unsporting behavior, the only thing to do is to send the player off for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.

As to what bringing the game into disrepute means in the normal course of the game, this answer of September 7, 2006, should give you all the information you need: “Bringing the game into disrepute ” means doing something that is totally counter the spirit of the game, which is meant to be played fairly and in a sporting manner.Ê Such acts show a lack of respect for the game, e. g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, deliberately kicking the ball into one’s own goal or taunting.


PROPER POSITIONING
Your question:
This question is related to what is the proper position for a center referee during active play. I have looked at the Power Point presentation and re-read the Guide to Procedures that are available on the website and don’t see advice for the exact scenario I am concerned with. The item that is closest to the situation is a throw-in by the attacking team on the AR’s side of the field. This issue came up during a U-19 Boys match. The coach of the attacking team thought his attacker was fouled, and was very adamant I was not in the proper position to see the foul. The apparent foul occurred with-in a few yards of the AR, and the AR did not believe a foul occurred. The attacker did have an ankle injury during the play, and when play was stopped for the injury the coach was very vocal in his displeasure with my position during the play, and the lack of a call.Ê

The scenario is the attacker has the ball near the touch-line on the AR’s side of the field, moving towards the end-line, about 20 yards from the end-line with a single defender. The other players are in the area of the penalty box, or are trailing the play by 20 or more yards. I was trailing the play by 4 or 5 yards, on the back side of the goal so I could keep the play, the players in the penalty area, and my AR all in view, as well as avoid being in the way of the play. I believe this is the proper position for the situation, but am willing to be told otherwise, as this position is a fair distance from where the ball was.

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
Lesson the First: Coaches are in the game solely to promote only one thing, the interests of themselves and their team. Put little credence in their complaints.

Lesson the Second: If the referee didn’t see it and the assistant referee didn’t see it (or the fourth official, if one is assigned), it didn’t happen, no matter how much the coach or anyone else may complain.

Lesson the Third: As to positioning,remember the “Magic Formula” described in the PowerPoint presentation, x = a + b + c. It is there for a purpose, to show you where to be and when and why to be there.

Lesson the Fourth: No matter how thoughtful the position, things can still happen on the field that we (all officials) will miss–live with it. Our job in positioning is to OPTIMIZE (not guarantee) the likelihood that we will see what needs to be seen. If you want guarantees, go into something more certain–like options trading.

Lesson the Fifth: When the ball is being played on the far touchline, it would be appropriate to be more to the center of the field based on what you say your position was. You were too far away from play. You must be in the position you need to be in to get the call right.


WHERE THE THROWER MAY STAND AT A THROW-IN
Your question:
Is there a distance requirement on how far back from the touch lineÊa thrower may throw the ball in? For instance may a thrower throw the ball in from 10 yards back from the touch line at a point perpendicular to the spot where the ball went out?

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
The correct answer will be found in the Advice to Referees:
15.1 LOCATION OF THROW-IN
Although the throw-in is to be taken “from the point where [the ball] crossed the touch line,” this requirement is satisfied if the restart occurs within approximately one yard (one meter) of this location, farther upfield or downfield or back from the touch line. A throw-in taken beyond this limit is an infringement of Law 15.


SEQUENCE FOR ISSUING CARDS
Your question:
A question came up in a game about the proper sequence in the order of issuing cards and I can’t find the immediate answer in the guide of officals etc.
The question is: Is it proper to issue an ejection first then a caution to the second player in an incident? The incident Player A Team A elbowed to the face player B Team B. Player B retaliated with a push to player A. Please advise.

USSF answer (October 31, 2006):
You first issue the card that is most needed to defuse the situation and prevent further escalation. In the absence of a need to defuse a tense situation, the normal order is to issue a card first to the player who committed the first misconduct and to follow in the order in which the misconduct behaviors occurred. You then record both or issue one and record, issue the second and record.…

2006 Part 3

Your question:
What is the “official” policy on medi-alert bracelets and knecklaces? Further, what is the policy on the rubber message bracelets (i.e. Livestrong, Breast Cancer, MIA, etc.)?USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
These answers from the past should cover your questions:
1. September 29, 2005, with reference to medicalert and other sorts of bracelets
As we responded to a query in May 2003, no referee should refuse to allow a medicalert bracelet to be worn if it is properly taped. Under the provisions of Law 4 (Players Equipment), referees are required to ensure that no player wears equipment that is dangerous to him-/herself or to any other participant. This means that sometimes we have to sacrifice the good of one player for the good of all other players.

We have responded to questions about jewelry and other non-standard equipment many times. We always state that while jewelry is not allowed, there are two permissible exceptions to the ban on jewelry: medicalert jewelry that can guide emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and certain religious items that are not dangerous and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage. Anything that is decorative or possibly dangerous to the player or to others is not permitted.

For further information on the requirements of the Law for player safety, see the USSF National Program for Referee Development’s position papers of 7 March 2003 on “Player’s Equipment” and 17 March 2003 on “Player Equipment (Jewelry).”

We agree that there would seem to be only one solution to your dilemma, the tennis wristband you suggested yourself, with the words MEDIC ALERT on it. The U. S. Soccer Federation cannot give blanket permission for any item of non-standard equipment. This band would still have to be inspected and approved by the referee on each game in which your son plans to participate. If the referee does not approve the band, because it does not appear to be safe for all participants, then your son will not be able to play. As stated in Law 4, the decision of the referee is final.

Explain the facts of your son’s problems to the league and show them this note. We would hope that the league will show common sense and approve the wrist band being worn. A referee would not make anyone take a wrist band off because it was dangerous so–what difference does it make in this case if it is tape or a wrist band?

2. November 19, 2004, with reference to any “message” bracelets. No jewelry, no adornments. These bands are loose and could be very dangerous.


GOALKEEPER HANDLING AND PENALTY AREA LINES
Your question:
You may have answered this one already but I¹m not totally sure.

I¹d like to distill this question down to its simplest form, without reading a whole let extra into it. It¹s been the source of a long debate in some different discussion forums, and we have at least one official who is holding fast to his personal interpretation in the face of an overwhelming number of officials who think differently.

In looking at ATR 12.20 as it is worded in the August, 2006 edition, a debate has arisen over this issue.

I contend, along with a large number of my colleagues, that if a ball is deliberately passed back to a teammates goalkeeper he/she may not pick it up with their hands. This applies whether the ball is passed back to the keeper while he/she is already in the penalty area, or if the keeper receives the deliberate pass back outside the penalty area and then proceeds to dribble the ball back into the penalty area and pick it up once it is in the PA. In either case, I believe that the ATR is telling us that ³by the book² this infraction should be treated as a technical foul for which the attacking team would be awarded an indirect free kick at the spot where the keeper picked up the ball (subject, of course, to the rules regarding restarts for IFK infractions that occur inside the goal area).

Others say that it has to be passed back to where the keeper can play it with their hands in order to result in the IFK, so receiving a pass back from a teammate outside the PA and dribbling it back into the penalty area to pick it us is not a technical foul. Unfortunately, the way that ATR 12.20 is written, a case could be made for either conclusion.

Can you set the record straight on this one?

USSF answer (September 29, 2006):
There are always soccer lawyers who will try to twist the written word to fit the meaning they want.

Advice 12.20 says:
QUOTE
12.20 BALL KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate. The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot. The requirement that the ball be “kicked to” the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball. The requirement that the ball be “deliberately kicked” means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected. The goalkeeper has infringed the Law by handling the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with the feet). This offense, like any other, may be ignored for the moment if it is trifling or doubtful (see Advice 5.6).

NOTE: (a) The goalkeeper is permitted to dribble into the penalty area and then pick up any ball played legally (not kicked deliberately to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper can easily play it) by a teammate or played in any manner by an opponent. (b) This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with timewasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game.
END OF QUOTE

A place where the goalkeeper may “play” the ball does not mean where the goalkeeper may play it with the hands. It should be clear from 12.20 that the goalkeeper is not permitted to dribble into the penalty area a ball deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate and then pick it up. That is not permitted under any circumstances. Of course, the goalkeeper may dribble (“play”) any ball played toward him or her with the feet. The infringement does not occur until the ‘keeper plays the ball with the hands.

Tell your dissenting colleagues to get a life.


ENSURE SAFETY, BUT DO NOT DICTATE WHO CAN OR CANNOT PLAY [REVISED]
Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obvsiouly looking out for the health of any player.

USSF answer (September 27, 2006):
[NOTE: This answer is a revision of an answer dated September 19, 2006]
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

If there is a trainer and/or medically trained person officially affiliated with the team or the competition authority (including, where relevant, the tournament), the referee should defer to that person’s decision as to whether a player’s return to the field following a serious injury would be safe. In the absence of such a person, the referee retains the authority under the Law to determine if a player is still seriously injured and, if necessary, to stop play and to require that player to again leave the field.  The Law does not allow the referee to prevent the return of the player to the field, but once play resumes with that player on the field, the referee reverts to his or her original duty to stop play if, in the referee’s opinion, the player is seriously injured.  As always, the referee must use common sense in making such a potentially controversial decision and must include full details in the match report.

Caveat: The referee should exercise intelligence and common sense when dealing with someone who claims medical expertise but who does not meet the requirement of being officially approved (for example, comes down from the stands or from among the spectators).


SUBSTITUTES AND GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITIES
Your question:
Your question: A substitute for the defending team enters the field and handles the ball just as it is struck by an opposing player. What does the referee do if, in his or her opinion, the ball would have gone into the goal if it had not been handled by the substitute?

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
No matter how unsporting his act, the substitute has not committed an offense which meets the requirements for a direct sending off under Law 12. Thus the restart in this case may only be an indirect free kick, bearing in mind the special circumstances described in Law 8. Why? Because when a substitute has entered the field without permission, the only possible restart is an indirect free kick for the illegal entry, and this is the offense which interfered with a goal or goal-scoring opportunity. No other restart may be considered. The substitute would be cautioned and shown the yellow card for entering the field of play without permission. The referee might also caution the substitute for unsporting behavior (showing a lack of respect for the game by bringing the game into disrepute through his cynical interference with play). Because the substitute had just been cautioned for illegally entering the field, this would be the substitute’s second caution of the game and he would therefore also be sent off and shown the red card. The substitute could NOT be sent off for preventing a goal or a goalscoring opportunity, because he was not a player.

The International F. A. Board has made it very clear that, regardless of what a substitute does after illegally entering the field, the restart is controlled by the illegal entry, not by whatever the substitute did after illegally entering the field. This applies whether the substitute simply tackles the ball away, handles the ball, or acts in any violent way against an opponent with or without the ball. In the case of (a) an additional cautionable offense committed after the illegal entry, the referee should caution the substitute and show the yellow card, immediately following the yellow card with a red card to signal dismissal; or in the case of (b) violent conduct, the referee should send off the substitute and show the red card without the necessity of first showing a yellow card for the illegal entry (but full details must be included in the game report).

This situation illustrates the need for referees and assistant referees and fourth officials of youth and adult games to maintain very close vigilance over where substitutes are. They must be restricted to the team area and not allowed to warm up anywhere but behind their teams.


OFFSIDE–OR NOT?
Your question:
Two blue attacking players are standing in an offside position. A blue teammate passes a ball over the second to last red defender towards the goal. The two blue players run in the direction of the ball. A fourth blue player, who was onside at the moment the ball was passed, runs past the two teammates, plays the ball, and fires it into the goal. As the assistant referee, at what point do you signal offside?
A. When the ball was kicked over the second to last red defender
B. When the ball was touched by the fourth blue attacker
C. When you saw the two blue players running in the direction of the ball
D. There is no offside infringement

USSF answer (September 25, 2006):
This quote from an August 2006 USSF memorandum should be helpful:
QUOTE
The proper interpretation and application of Law 11 have been evolving in recent years. To this end, the International Board has provided detailed definitions of the ways in which a player may become involved in active play (Law 11, International Board Decision 2). On August 17, 2005, a Circular from the FIFA further clarified some of the confusion regarding whether “touching the ball” was a requirement for “interfering with play” (emphasis added):
– A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.
– If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with an opponent.
END OF QUOTE

If the player who had been in the onside position when the ball was played gets there first, then there is no offside.


PLACEMENT OF THE BALL ON CORNER KICKS
Your question:
[Note: This question has been abridged to be more readily understandable.]
The Law states the ball has to be within the corner arc, this is ambiguous. What does this mean?

Does it mean that a portion of the ball can be outside the corner arc as long as the circumference of the ball is over the top of the line or touching the plane of the line? Is this still considered to be inside the corner arc, even though the ball is not in physical contact with the line? Or does it mean that the ball has be physically touching a blade of white grass to be considered in the corner arc?

I have read the LAWs of the GAME and advice to the referees 2005 and 2006 several times and discussed it with highly experienced refs and it is not clear, at least not to me.

I have looked at the illustrations in the FIFA LAWS and the ADVICE booklets. The illustrations for corner arc appear to match the illustrations for ball out of play (touchline and goal line), goal area for goal kicks and illustration for a goal scored and the foot over the WHOLE line for illegal throw in. Each of these illustrations and all the situations I know of in soccer always consider the WHOLE ball and the WHOLE LINE.

If the corner arc is different, please explain why this different ruling is logical or makes sense in the game?

If I said a corner kick must be inside the corner arc area would I be correct? If so does that mean it has to touch the line of the corner arc or the touchline or goal line or just the corner arc?

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
Short answer: At a corner kick the ball must be inside the arc, which means it may not rest outside the arc and thus simply break the plane of the line(s).

Long answer: Putting the ball into play from a corner kick is quite different from judging the ball to be either in or out of play over a boundary line. These are two different concepts and are covered in several different Laws. There is absolutely no ambiguity in Law 17.

Law 9 tells us that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air or when play has been stopped by the referee, and that the ball is in play at all other times. That obviously has nothing to do with restarts.

Law 17 requires the ball to be “placed inside the corner arc.” If it is on the ground outside the arc, it is not inside the arc, no matter that it may break the plane of that arc.

The requirement is not quite the same for goal kicks, at which the ball may simply break the plane of the line to be ready to put into play. Why? Because Law 16 requires only that the ball be kicked from any point within the goal area. Law 15 does not deal with the line and when the ball is in play with regard to the line, as the ball may still be in the hands of the thrower as it crosses the line and enters the field before it has been released into play.

As to enforcing the placement, although we have now made clear what the Law technically says about ball placement on a corner kick, the practical referee question must always be, “so what?”  Consider an incorrect placement of the ball as a trifling offense unless it REALLY made a difference.


PUTTING THE BALL INTO PLAY AT A FREE KICK
Your question:
This has been discussed on SOCREF-L twice in the last few weeks. I was quite surprised when several of the experienced referees stated that they would retake the kick if the ball was not properly put in play. I have always thought that if player #1 takes some action with the ball that does not put it in play, then player #2 puts the ball in play when he kicks it directly into the goal. It never occurred to me that player #2 was not allowed to put the ball in play in this situation. If the original restart was an IFK, I would award a goal kick to the defending team. Since others seemed to disagree, I wondered if I was missing something in my reasoning.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If, at an indirect free kick, one player simply touches the ball without moving it and the second player then kicks it straight into the goal, the correct restart is a goal kick. However, if the ball touched any other player on the way into the goal, the goal would be scored.


GOALKEEPER POSSESSION AND CHALLENGES
Your question:
Please clarify when fouls should be called, or not, when the goalie is scrambling for the ball and attacker(s) are trying to kick it into the goal. e.g. sliding into the goalie when trying to get the goal, etc.

USSF answer (September 20, 2006):
If an opponent is challenging the goalkeeper for a ball on the ground, both are allowed to play it fairly. If the goalkeeper has the ball under control, meaning that it is within his or her grasp (which can be nothing more than a finger pinning the ball to the ground or to the body), then the opponent must stop the challenge. Accidents may happen, but they will still be called as a foul against the opponent. If the goalkeeper does not have the ball under control, then the opponent may continue to try to win the ball fairly. In addition, the referee must take full consideration of the age and skill levels of the players.

ENSURE SAFETY, BUT DO NOT DICTATE WHO CAN OR CANNOT PLAY

Your question:
Player A collides with Player B, and in the process Player A is inadvertently hit in the head by Player B. Player A falls to the ground but never loses consciousness. Play is stopped and the trainer is called. Player A is taken off the field. The referee then informs the coach for Player A that she cannot re-enter the game at all based on their assessment of her health, even though a certified trainer for the school says that she is clear to play (without symptoms). Is this allowed? According to what I’ve read about Rule 5, the referee is not liable for any injury suffered by a player, spectator or official during the course of the game, but is obviously looking out for the health of any player.

Answer (September 19, 2006):
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.

Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.

DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY

Your question:
Last week, I was an AR for a U12 Boy’s Soccer Game. In the 2nd half, after a goal was scored, the keeper took the ball out of the goal and went to toss it to his teammate to kick it off.

In the process, the players that scored the goal took the ball away from the keeper and then bounced it in front of him and celebrated. It was a rude act and went beyond celebrating. They then tossed it for the kick off.

Is this a caution for both players? Does the player who bounced the ball in front of the keeper to be rude deserve more punishment that the other player?

Also, the referee (center) saw this, but did nothing. As an AR, should I raise the flag and say that I believe the players deserve cautions?

Answer (September 13, 2006):
The IFAB, the people who make and amend the Laws of the Game, anticipated your question and made a change in the Laws this year. If you look in the back of the book, you will find the section on “Additional Instructions.” In that section, you will see, under 2. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR REFEREES, ASSISTANT REFEREES AND FOURTH OFFICIALS
Delaying the restart of play
a new bullet point 6:
Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by tactics such as:
[followed by a list of five bullet points unchanged from the present text and then]
– provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

In the Memorandum 2006, the Federation gave the following “USSF Advice to Referees: This new bullet point reflects the results of an experiment approved by the IFAB for certain competitions in 2005. The behavior which is the focus of this instruction includes attempts by a scoring team to take possession of the ball from the opponent’s goal and players who attempt to gain control of the ball at a stoppage, in either case in a manner which, in the opinion of the referee, would provoke the opposing team. Referees should attempt to anticipate and forestall such offenses, saving the caution for the most flagrant cases where the offending player is unwilling to desist in the provocation. If the caution is unavoidable, it must be reported for delaying the restart of play.”

The acts you describe in your question would be covered by this new bullet point. You were correct and the referee was incorrect.

LEAVING THE FIELD OF PLAY

Your question:
At the taking of a corner kick, an attacker runs from the far post to the near post. To get around the keeper, who is standing on the goal line, he goes inside the goal. Is this permissible:
1. If the action takes place prior to the kick?
2. If the action takes places after the ball is in play (i.e. in the air)?
3. If a defender marking the attacker runs into his own keeper as a result of the run by the defender?

I know a player may temporarily cross the boundary lines to get around another player without having been considered off the FOP in terms of Leaving Without Permission, but going in the goal and returning to gain an advantage seems a special case. My inclination is to stop play, caution for UB, and either take the kick (if not taken) or IFK out from the 6 (where attacker left the FOP + special circumstances). Can you give any guidance for this situation?

Re: #3, ignoring the FOP departure, if two teammates run into each other that seems to me to be their own problem.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
It would not be a very clever play, as the possibility for interference with or impeding of the goalkeeper is always there, but the ploy is legal, as long as it is during the course of play and the player who enters the goal does not interfere in ANY way with the goalkeeper. In addition, let us emphasize that in general the player is expected to stay on the field.

And yes, the matter of two teammates running into one another would be their own problem, not the referee’s.

CAUTIONS FOR DELIBERATELY HANDLING THE BALL

Question:
I’m a USSF ref and have a question about when handling the ball by an offensive player in the penalty area rises to the level of a caution being issued.

I was watching a college game. Team A had a throw-in deep in its offensive zone. The throw went into the box and several players from both teams jumped in a attempt to head the all. One of the Team A players while jumping raised his arms over his head and the ball struck one of his arms and then he swatted the ball to the ground. The referee correctly stopped play and awarded a DFK to Team B but he also gave the Team A player a caution. >From my vantage point on the sidelines it didn’t appear that the Team A players was attempting to score by using his hand.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
This applies to games played under the Laws of the Game. Your answer lies in the Additional Instructions for Referees at the end of your book of the Laws:
Cautions for unsporting behavior by deliberately handling the ball
There are circumstances when, in addition to a free kick being awarded, a player must also be cautioned for unsporting behavior, e.g. when a player:
– deliberately and blatantly handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession
– attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball

BALL KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER

Question:
A fellow referee & I were discussing a call he made during a girls high school game. A defender deliberately kicked the ball with her foot back to the keeper who attempted to play the ball with her foot. The ball glanced off her foot and headed toward the goal line. The keeper ran back and picked up the ball with her hands. The referee allowed play to continue. He and his partner reasoned after the game that because the keeper intended to play the ball with her foot and had actually made contact with the ball that she could then be allowed to pick the ball up with her hands. I disagreed with him and said he should have awarded an IFK to the attacking team.. Your thoughts please.

Answer (September 12, 2006):
The fact that the goalkeeper attempted to play the ball with her foot does not override the fact that the ball was deliberately kicked by a teammate. However, the principle behind the change in the Laws was to prevent time wasting. It appears clear from the situation you describe that there were no timewasting tactics here, so the intelligent referee might decide to overlook this trifling infringement and continue on with the game.

BALL PLACEMENT FOR CORNER KICK

Question:
I have received a number of questionsregarding placement of the ball for a corner kick. Something so simple as this has been confounded by me and I have made a probably incorrect assumption. Where this came from I don’t know but it’s stuck in my mind. The Law states inside the corner arc. Q&A and Advice both show diagrams of what is correct and incorrect. I checked the grade 8 slides on the website and found them in agreement with the aforementioned diagrams.

Is the corner arc “different” than any other field marking? Is the ball in contact with the extended plane of the corner arc sufficient to place it in the corner area or is this different? Is this like the ball in or out of play, a goal scored or not, in or out of the penalty area, etc. It’s a matter of inches and semantics and consistency and I may have answered incorrectly so I feel compelled to ask ‘the burning bush” again. If I have made an error I need to get the proper word out to the referees I misinformed.

Answer (September 11, 2006):
This answer of October 21, 2004, has not changed:
It has been clearly stated by the International F. A. Board, the makers of the Laws of the Game, that the ball must be within or physically touch the lines demarcating the corner arc.

The rule the player in your incident refers to applies only to balls being either in play or out of play. In those situations, the ball must simply break the vertical plane of the line to be in play and need not touch the line physically. This does not apply to the corner kick. You will find a diagram on corner kick placement in the IFAB/FIFA publication “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game, which can be downloaded from www.fifa.com.

GOALKEEPER POSSESSION

Question:
Another interesting question: In a recent U18 match, I had a shot that went wide of the goal. The keeper went after the ball, as did a player from the offense as the ball was headed towards the goal line. The goalkeeper subsequently dove to knock the ball over the goal line with his hands while within the penalty area, and in the process, the attacking player tripped over his outstretched arms (since he was in close proximity to play the ball).

It did not appear that the attacking player was “playing” the goalkeepers arms, and the fall was not a violent tackle. Neither player was hurt in the tackle.

Since the ball was driven over the goal line by a member of the defensive team, I awarded a corner kick. I have checked with a few officials, and the results have been mixed. One stated that since the keeper had posession when he touched the ball, I should have issued a DFK for fouling the keeper. Another said that the keeper and the player from the offense both had a fair shot at the ball, and since the offense player did not deliberately kick the keepers arms (in fact, he tripped over them), that it was a “no foul” situation.

I’m looking for some guidance here. From what I have written, what would you suggest is the right restart?

Answer (September 9, 2006):
The goalkeeper establishes possession by controlling the ball with his (or her) hand(s), but deflecting the ball does not establish either control or possession. Merely touching the ball is not enough (keeping in mind the need to judge possession by the age and skill of the players). The ball needs to be held by both hands or trapped between one hand and a surface or held in the outstretched hand.

No foul by either player. The correct decision was the corner kick.

REFEREE BEHAVIOR AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Question:
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions ….. this is an informative and useful website.

My question is: What are the rules and guidelines for regulating referee behavior on and off the field? I know that the rules published by FIFA list the actions that a referee needs to take to govern the game within the rules, but I would assume that there must be some rules that outline acceptable and unacceptable behavior by a referee and referee conduct.

Specifically, is a referee allowed to make comments like ‘this is going to cost you $2 for my time’ when the game is stopped to allow a player to do up their shoe laces? At the time of a player substitution comments are made like ‘I will take onions and tomatoes with this sub’.…